Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Torturous Colleagues

Medieval torture device

Bev was waiting at Carrie’s desk as Carrie walked out of her meeting. Her footsteps slowed and she quickly ran through escape scenarios in her mind. Bev’s demeanor said it all: something had transpired while Carrie was in her meeting, and Bev was looking for the only ally she thought she had.
Carrie plastered a smile on her face, determined not to let Bev drag her into whatever new drama she’d created.
“Hey,” Bev said pitifully as Carrie dropped a stack of papers on her desk and lifted her phone receiver. She didn’t have any voicemails, but hoped Bev didn’t know that and would be deterred under the assumption that Carrie was busy. Carrie punched in some numbers as Bev stood behind her, plaintively sighing and whispering, “Can I talk to you?” The phone ruse didn’t work.
“What’s up?” Carrie asked brightly, even as her lips flattened with the force of her smile. She checked her watch; one last-ditch effort in deterring Bev before she got started.
“I was a bad girl. I snapped at Jody while you were in your meeting.”
Carrie quickly turned toward Jody, who stared with a little too much concentration at her computer screen. Carrie noticed the headphones plugged into her ears; something Jody didn’t usually wear.
“But I apologized to her,” Bev continued. “Didn’t I, Jody?”
Jody’s back remained an unmoving wall of stillness.
Bev pursed her lips. “Oh, I suppose she’s not talking to me now. Jody. Jody!”
Reluctantly, Jody turned her head and Carrie saw the flush of her cheeks and the hooded look in her eyes. Jody removed one earphone, but said nothing.
“Jody, tell Carrie that I apologized to you.”
Carrie and Jody locked eyes. Two deer in the headlights of a barreling truck. Carrie wanted to stop her, to thwart this further humiliation of Jody, but she was too stunned to speak. Jody did instead, saying flatly, “You apologized,” before turning back to her inconsequential computer screen.
Carrie took in the stiff resolution of Jody’s back as Bev pleaded for her attention again. “See? I apologized,” Bev insisted.
“You shouldn’t have snapped at her in the first place.”
A look of alarm passed over Bev’s face as she realized that Carrie might not side with her. “My head hurts,” she said, pressing her hand to her forehead as her lip quivered.
Carrie looked toward Jody again, whose muscles hadn’t moved. She’d seen enough. “I’m going to lunch.”

When she returned, Bev was standing at her desk again, a piece of paper in her hand.
“Carrie, would you mind taking a look at this? I’m thinking of applying for a new job.” Carrie took the paper from her hand and glanced toward Jody’s chair. It was pushed in. Her desk lamp was dark, her computer shut down.
“Where did Jody go?”
Bev’s shoulders hunched defensively. “She left. The boss pulled me into a conference room and had a talk with me. Apparently Jody went to him and said that I was mean to her and she was so upset that she had to leave.”
“What exactly happened?”
Bev’s voice rose. “I don’t know! Honestly, Carrie, I don’t know what she’s talking about. She said I was mean to her, but I have no clue what’s she’s even talking about.”
“Wait a minute. You told me earlier that you snapped at her.”
“I don’t know what she’s talking about! I don’t know what I could have possibly said that would have upset her. And now she’s quitting.”
“Wait a minute.  I don’t understand. What actually happened?”
“I have no idea!”
“You said you snapped at her, but about what?”
“I don’t even know what I could have done. I didn’t do anything, Carrie! It’s her word against mine. She says I was mean to her and that she’s leaving, but no one will tell me what I supposedly did wrong! I told the boss to keep Jody and I would leave since apparently I’m too difficult for anyone to work with.”
Carrie stared at her. Bev’s eyes watered as she ramped up her role as victim.  “Can you look at this job posting for me?”
“I guess. But is Jody really leaving?”
“I don’t know. I don’t know what happened or why everyone is against me. I have no idea what she’s upset about.”
Carrie shook her head and glanced through the job posting. She debated whether to call Jody and find out the story, but was already tired of the drama and just wanted to get back to work. She nodded her head and handed the sheet of paper back to Bev. “This looks perfect for you. Go for it.”

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